World Gold Council Seeks Comments on Conflict-Free Standards

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RAPAPORT… The World Gold Council believes that gold must be a source of economic and social development wherever it is found, and that any possibility for gold to fund conflict must be eradicated. Therefore, the group  established a consultation process on conflict-free and “chain of custody” gold standards and is currently seeking feedback on the resulting draft measures. The World Gold Council is accepting comments  through September 1, 2011. (Download the standards documents and email comments to:

World Gold Council  member companies and leading refiners have been working to devise a system to identify how newly-mined gold should be certified as  conflict-free. The have developed a  framework that is applicable to armed conflict regions across the globe.

The draft framework includes standards to track gold from  mine to market and consists initially of a ”chain of custody” standard and a conflict-free gold standard. The standards will be subject to an independent audit while additional standards on auditing, certification and the handling of recycled gold are being developed.

These  standards are being ”stress tested” in practice by leading gold mining companies and refiners. The World Gold Council  plans to speak with sponsors of other certification initiatives in the electronics and jewelry sectors to facilitate an integrated approach.

The draft standard has three pillars: A conflict, company, and commodity assessment. The draft standard contains benchmarks  with which companies must assess the adequacy of their systems and analyze their impacts. Their conclusions then must be auditable.

The standards are underpinned by  commitments to: Respect human rights; ensure that payments are not made, directly or indirectly, to armed groups; be transparent about their payments to governments; only accept gold from conforming sources; and to establish a credible and accessible grievance mechanism.

The chain of custody standard provides the infrastructure for identifying that a consignment of gold doré, which has been mined according to the conflict-free standard, has not been tampered with during its transport between the mine and the refinery, which may involve passing through shipping agents, security, customs and airlines, or during the refining process. The process is based upon a chain of warranties that  will be auditable, for example, by insurers or customers and integrated with existing management systems.

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